In this essay, adapted from a lecture I recently delivered on the topic of “Patriotism, Cosmopolitanism, and Democracy,” I will defend what I term a “reasonable patriotism,” and I will argue that separate and distinct political communities are the only sites in which decent and—especially—democratic politics can be enacted.
I begin with some conceptual clarifications.
Cosmopolitanism is a creed that gives primary allegiance to the community of human beings as such, without regard to distinctions of birth, belief, or political boundaries. The antithesis of cosmopolitanism is particularism, in which one's primary allegiance is to a group or subset of human beings with shared characteristics. There are different forms of particularism reflecting the varying objects of primary allegiance—communities of co-religionists (the Muslim ummah), ethnicity, and shared citizenship, among others.